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The Hunger Games: Fun for the Whole Family? The Big Debate.

THe Hunger Games - Family Friendly?

Are you planning on going to see much anticipated movie adaptation of The Hunger Games? And more importantly, are you taking your kids? This is a big question that many a parent is currently grappling with. Since Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series was released in 2008, it has become a cross-generational hit like Twilight and Harry Potter. It was published as a young adult novel, but has been equally enjoyed by the over 18 set.  It’s a book that moms, dads, and their teenage kids are all are devouring with an equal passion.

It’s always a wonderful thing when families can share a literary favorite, but when the blood shed and the merciless killing is brought to the big screen, especially in a case like this where teenagers are trying to kill each other, will parents opt not to take their children?

The film is considered in the family feature category since it has YA roots. But some and I’m sure they are in the minority – are worried about the realistic bloodshed and violence. Then again, there are a whole slew of films for the youth of today that feature guts and gore.

Christopher J. Ferguson of Time.com is one parent who will be going and taking his kid, an 8-year-old, to the movie.

Ferguson cited a Wall Street Journal piece by Meghan Cox Gurdon (who called The Hunger Games “hyper-violent”) where she commented on this kind of YA fiction, saying, “No family is obliged to acquiesce when publishers use the vehicle of fundamental free-expression principles to try to bulldoze coarseness or misery into their children’s lives.”  Ouch.  Ferguson defended The Hunger Games and goes on to plead his personal case saying:

“Parents are free, of course, to use their moral compass to decide which media is appropriate for their families, but some of my own research suggests that the best option is for parents to consume violent-themed entertainment alongside their children rather than to either shield kids from it or leave them on their own. Parental input seems to help children understand the context of aggression and violence and better prepare them for how to address it in their own lives. Aggression is part of the human condition, something most kids experience shortly after they age out of Baby Einstein. But parents can be assured that The Hunger Games is not going to harm their child.” He ended it with a clever, “So, game on. May the odds be ever in your favor!”

Like Ferguson, there are other parents who are looking forward to sharing this experience with their kids. The storyline of The Hunger Games includes some pretty deep subject matter than would liven up any dinner table chat time. The Christian Science Monitor argues that the film should be shared with the younger set. They quote a family therapist who says the story deals “with all kinds of important family issues, as well as larger moral and ethical questions.”

Although I enjoyed the Hunger Games trilogy and can’t wait to see the film, I’m leaving my 6-year-old at home and I’d probably wait until my daughter was over the age of 14 to see it. But I’m the mom who won’t watch Bambi and fast forwards through the first fifteen minutes of Finding Nemo, so I come from a nervous Nelly-ish place. I try to protect her and allow her to bask in the world of innocence and wholesomeness as long as I can, before the topics of violence, hatred and cruelty can touch her life in any form be it in life or on film.

I remember seeing a couple of violent films when I was under the age of 10 or so and the images still haunt me to this day. Ann Margaret writhing in baked beans and eventually being shot down in Tommy, the human stampede in The Day of the Locust, or the totally creepy Zardoz three movies that I can not and will not see ever again. Tommy gave me nightmares for months. There is no reason for my sweet girl to be exposed to the heavy storyline of The Hunger Games when she is 6, 8 or even 12. She can wait. I would like the odds of her not having nightmares be in her favor.

But, it really does come down to the family and child. If your child is ready to see it, The Stir has a warning and notes that although film is “quite different from the cartoonishly gory violence we often see in other movies… it’s also way more intense. If you decide to bring your kids, you may want to have a conversation with them before and after the movie.”

So if you go, make sure that you are there for your kids to help them digest the film. Or not! Hey, you could have one of those “been there, seen that,” type kids that wouldn’t be phased by anything.

Will you be taking your kids to see The Hunger Games? And if so, how old are they?

Image: Lions Gate

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